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A smartphone will soon help you do physio exercises

Research at CLARITY project in UCD shows how smartphone can be used as a sensor to advise if you’re doing it right… or wrong.

Physio Oonagh Giggins, left, demonstrates how a smartphone strapped to a limb can be used as a sensor to give feedback on how an exercise is being performed.
Physio Oonagh Giggins, left, demonstrates how a smartphone strapped to a limb can be used as a sensor to give feedback on how an exercise is being performed.
Image: Still: UCD Innovation via Youtube

SMARTPHONES COULD SOON be used to help patients get the most from physiotherapy exercises at home.

Research carried out by the Centre for Sensor Web Technology (CLARITY) in UCD is exploring how the communications technology we use in our everyday lives can be put to even further practical use.

In a project led by Professor Brian Caulfield, smartphones are used to monitor physical movement and a person’s behaviour, in order to collect data and advise on what and how they should be doing better in their physical activity routines.

The research has led to a new app which uses a smartphone as a kinetic motion sensor to monitor how a patient is carrying out a physio exercise at home. It detects if the correct position is being used and then creates feedback to advise the patient on how to correct their movement to get the best possible effect out of the exercise.

It is hoped that the app will go into beta clinical testing with a major physio company in Ireland so that ultimately it will become an inexpensive and effective tool for people to use at home, in order to get the best results from physical rehab.

Have a look at this video from UCDInnovation which shows the smartphone-as-sensor in action (and its application in elite athlete training, too):

via UCDInnovation/Youtube

Physiotherapist Oonagh Giggins explains how the sensor might work for a patient:

I know that when you give patients exercises to do at home, they either forget how to do these exercises correctly or don’t bother to do them at all. So (this app) uses a smartphone as a sensor which, when strapped to the leg for example, it measures the angle of the leg with respect to gravity so if the patient does not perform exercises properly, the app on the phone recognises this and provides feedback to the patient to correct the movement.

CLARITY is now part of the countrywide INSIGHT Centre which gets funding from the Science Foundation Ireland. If you’re a long-time TheJournal.ie reader, you might be familiar with CLARITY as researchers there powered our Twitter Tracker tool during the last general election, which helped us track sentiment expressed on Twitter towards politicial parties and individual candidates themselves.

The Twitter Tracker was noted by the Nieman Journalism Lab in Harvard University as “a socialization of news that is gathering momentum worldwide”. So now.

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#ge11 TwitterTracker/TheJournal.ie/CLARITY

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